Clinical Studies at the Diabetes and Obesity Center

In partnership with the dedicated physicians at UofL, the Diabetes and Obesity Center supports clinical studies to translate discoveries in basic science and to contribute to the development of new therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

In 2008, the Center began working with disadvantaged and underserved communities in order to assess the impact of environmental factors on diabetes and heart disease. With help from UofL’s Preventive Cardiology Clinic, the Louisville Healthy Heart Project collects data on environmental factors that influence the prevalence and the severity of heart disease . Patients receiving care at UofL’s Preventive Cardiology Clinic are offered the opportunity to participate in investigator-initiated research studies that examine the effects of environmental pollutants on endothelial progenitor cells. The Project also provides outstanding opportunities for research and training in the fields of preventive cardiology, cardiovascular epidemiology and environmental cardiology.

PI: Timothy O’Toole
Co-Investigator: Sathya Krishnasamy
The REVIVE (Role of EPCs and Vascular Progenitors In Vascular Endothelial Health) study, recently launched in collaboration with the Division of Endocrinology, explores whether diabetes causes a decrease in circulating endothelial progenitor cells, diminishing their ability to promote angiogenesis. This project is a case-controlled study of 50 diabetic, 50 pre-diabetic and 50 non-diabetic subjects recruited from the UofL Diabetes Clinic.

PI: Aruni Bhatnagar
Co-Investigator: Jorge Rodriguez
The OSIRIS (Obesity and Stem cell-Induced Regeneration In Systemic vascular disease) study, in collaboration with the Department of Surgery, examines the effects of bariatric surgery on insulin resistance and stem cell function in the morbidly obese. The overall aim of OSIRIS is to develop a better understanding of how bariatric surgery alters systemic inflammation and the lipid-mediators of resolution, such as resolvins. Patients are enrolled before surgery and followed for 3 years.

Basic Research Projects at the Diabetes and Obesity Center

Few therapeutic options are available to help prevent or reverse obesity and its metabolic consequences. Using mouse models of diet-induced obesity, this project examines the role of carnosine, a naturally occurring dipeptide, in regulating adiposity and insulin resistance. Results from these studies could lead to the identification of a safe and effective approach to the treatment and prevention of obesity in humans.

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Recent research suggests that environmental factors contribute to the growing epidemics of diabetes and obesity. This project investigates the potential link between diabetes and exposure to air pollution by by studying the effects of Particulate Matter (PM) inhalation on the development of vascular and systemic insulin resistance. The findings of this study could help inform future air quality regulations, and contribute to the development of new prevention- and intervention strategies to mitigate air pollution toxicity.

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Our recent work has uncovered that nutrient excess delays resolution of acute inflammation. Importantly, promoting resolution with pro-resolving lipid mediators restores insulin sensitivity and enhances diabetic wound healing. Completion of this project will help identify cellular mechanisms that propagate chronic unresolved adipose tissue inflammation in obesity and diabetes, providing new therapeutic targets for the treatment of T2D.

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Long-term diabetes, has a direct and adverse impact on the heart. In this project, researchers are investigating the influence of diabetes on cardiac stem cells. Successful completion of these studies could lead to the development of novel cardiac stem cell therapies for preventing or treating cardiac dysfunction in diabetic patients.

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Although cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in diabetics, no a diabetes-specific approaches have been developed for the treatment or prevention of heart disease. . We are studying how diabetes affects the stability of atherosclerotic plaques and whether metabolites generated in the plaque could be measured as biomarkers of an atherothrombotic event. The findings of this study could lead to the development of more successful diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for the clinical management of diabetic patients with acute coronary syndromes.